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Peer effects and alcohol use among college students

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  • Michael Kremer
  • Dan Levy
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    Abstract

    This paper examines a natural experiment in which students at a large state university were randomly assigned roommates through a lottery system. We find that on average, males assigned to roommates who reported drinking in the year prior to entering college had one quarter-point lower GPA than those assigned to non-drinking roommates. The 10th percentile of their college GPA is half a point lower than among males assigned non-drinking roommates. For males who themselves drank frequently prior to college, assignment to a roommate who drank frequently prior to college reduces GPA by two-thirds of a point. Since students who drink frequently are particularly influenced by frequent-drinking roommates, substance-free housing programs could potentially lower average GPA by segregating drinkers. The effect of initial assignment to a drinking roommate persists and possibly even grows over time. In contrast, students' college GPA is not influenced by roommates' high school grades, admission test scores, or family background. Females' GPAs are not affected by roommates' drinking prior to college. Overall, these findings are more consistent with models in which peers change preferences than models in which they change endowments.

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    File URL: http://karlan.yale.edu/fieldexperiments/papers/00286.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00286.

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    Date of creation: 2003
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    Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00286

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    Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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    1. Gary S. Becker & Michael Grossman & Kevin M. Murphy, 1990. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 61, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    2. Laibson, David I., 2000. "A Cue-Theory of Consumption," Scholarly Articles 4481496, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    3. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
    4. Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," NBER Working Papers 7469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Samuel Bowles & Rajiv Sethi, 2006. "Social Segregation and the Dynamics of Group Inequality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2006-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    2. Kling, Jeffrey & Liebman, Jeffrey, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Paper Series rwp04-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin, 2006. "Close Neighbours Matter: Neighbourhood Effects on Early Performance at School," CEE Discussion Papers 0068, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    4. Samuel Bowles & Glenn C. Loury & Rajiv Sethi, 2014. "Group Inequality," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 129-152, 02.
    5. Kim, Young Chul, 2009. "Lifetime Network Externality and the Dynamics of Group Inequality," MPRA Paper 18767, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Jeffrey S. DeSimone, 2007. "Fraternity Membership and Drinking Behavior," NBER Working Papers 13262, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson & David Pozen, 2007. "Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections," NBER Working Papers 12932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Jonathan Meer, 2009. "Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Peer Effects in Charitable Solicitation," Discussion Papers 08-035, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

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